A 'Groovy'Way to Create Web Apps

PCQ Bureau
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Groovy is a scripting language and not a music genre. But yes, this is one framework that is as easy

working with as listening to your favorite music! The reason being that it uses the

'coding by convention' method. Such a technique implies that names of some of

the files, artifacts, etc are self explanatory so they are not included in the

configuration files; the framework finds out by itself what is to be used where.

And the best part is that the business logic is auto-generated. Let's look at this framework and how

to build applications with it.


What is Grails?

Grails is a framework built on lines of the Rails framework. Rails is a Model-View-Controller based framework for Web
applications using technology like AJAX for viewing and a complete request-response

model for the controller. If you have used Rails, you would find Grails very easy to

use. But in case it is Java that has been your only means of creating software,

you won't find this one any tougher to get started with, as it is already based on Open Source

technologies like Spring and Hibernate. Grails also provides integration with technologies it is built upon, so your

Spring application doesn't need to be ripped apart for 'Grailing' it. 

Direct Hit!
Applies To:

Java EE developers

USP: Developing Web apps without hand coding every aspect

Primary Link:

Google Keywords: Groovy, Grails

Grails is loaded with automated tasks for almost anything, from creating domain classes,

to OR (Object Relational) mapping, or creating domains, most of the time you would be running Ant commands from

command line to get the work done.


Groovy for Grails

Being a scripting language based on Java, it makes a lot of difference to Grails.
Groovy compiles to byte codes and it makes no difference to the Java platform if

the byte codes were generated from code written in Java or Groovy. The other advantages include ease of use in the context

that you don't necessarily need to wrap up every thing in a class while you're using

Groovy. In fact if you look at the documentation, a 'Hello World!' example would

simply contain the statement 'println(Hello World !)'without having to declare a class

and method for the same. Thus it does almost anything that Java does for a Web

application but it has lesser rules.

The Grails' Create-app command creates a detailed directory structure with almost

all configuration files and artifacts auto-generated

A Groovy application

You can find install instructions on the framework's website mentioned above. So
we'll get down to action straight away.To create an application you need to run the task


grails create-app

The command prompts for application name (PCQG Demo in our case).

This creates an elaborate directory structure as well as

configuration files and all other artifacts commonly used in a Web application.

With the skeletal structure ready we'll add some life to it by building a

simple application.


Our application simply displays products, customers and orders

from a database, of course there is a lot more that you can add to this

application, but for the sake of simplicity, we'll stick to this one. The

database we're using is created on MySQL and is named 'test'. It has three

tables, customer, product, and order_data. First create classes for each of the

database entities. This is done using the following command from the root

directory of your product.

grails create-domain-class

The command prompts for class name and generates a .groovy

class under the /grails-app/domain directory and also creates a

test suite under the /grails-test directory with name Tests.groovy.We

created three classes viz.Customer,Product, and Order.The classes created will

initially have only two attributes viz.'id'and 'version'.The classes can

then be edited as follows:


class Customer{

Long id

Long version

Integer customerid

String name = ''

def relatesToMany = < products :

Product, orders : Order >

Set orders = new HashSet()

Set products = new HashSet()

String toString() {

"${} : $id" }

boolean equals(other) {

if(other?.is(this))return true

if(!(other instanceof Customer)) return


if(!id || !other?.id || id!=other?.id)

return false

return true



For the name attribute we are providing a default value 'customer'

in case the field is left blank. The notation is the syntax for this

purpose. The statement 'def relatesToMany' provides the mapping for the

relationship between customer and order, products table which is one to many.

Similarly, you can edit the class Product which has the attributes: productid

(integer), code, name (both strings) and unitprice (double). The order class we

created will map to a table called order_data in our database. To configure this

mapping, all you have to do is use the 'withTable' keyword as follows:

class Order{


static withTable =


Integer orderid

Integer customerid

Date orderdate

Integer quantity

def belongsTo = Customer




Once we are through with our classes we will configure our application to use

the MySQL database.Groovy defines three modes for Data Sources in three

different files under the / grails-app/conf directory.

In the Order List page from the PCQGDemo

application, the page navigation is configured with links for common tasks

like order list and new order

These are: Development mode defined in file DevelopmentData

Source.groovy,Productionmode defined in ProductionDataSource.groovy, and

Test mode defined in TestDataSource. groovy. For our application we will take
the Development data source and configure it for MySQL as follows:


class DevelopmentDataSource {

boolean pooling = true

def logSql = true

String dbCreate = "create-drop"

String url =


String driverClassName =


String username = "username"

String password = "password"


You need to download the latest stable version of MySQL Connector for Java

and copy the JAR file into the /lib directory. With the classes
and data sources defined, we will now look into defining controllers for each of

the domain classes. This is where we were impressed the most with this

framework, and this is how you create controller.

grails generate-all

The only input you give here is the class for which you want to generate

controllers, so run this three times and provide names of all classes you have

created. The following code is a bit long, taken straight from the application
we created, and it is auto-generated, so practically you don't scribble a

single word of code for the controllers.

class CustomerController {

def index = {

redirect(action:list,params:params) }

def allowedMethods =



def list = {

if(!params.max)params.max = 10

< customerList: Customer.list(

params ) >


def show = {

< customer : Customer.get( ) >


def delete = {

def customer = Customer.get( )

if(customer) {


flash.message = "Customer

${} deleted."



else {

flash.message = "Customer not

found with id ${}"




def edit = {

def customer = Customer.get( )

if(!customer) {

flash.message = "Customer

not found with id ${}"



else {

return < customer : customer >



def update = {

def customer = Customer.get( )

if(customer) { = params

if( {




else {





else {

flash.message = "Customer not

found with id ${}"




def create = {

def customer = new Customer() = params

return <'customer':customer>


def save = {

def customer = new Customer() = params

if( {




else {






Now if you look at the code, you'll realize that it contains all the

business logic. That's the real advantage over here.

After you're through with domain classes; almost everything is

auto-generated. To run the application, we again have three modes, the

production (default) mode, the development mode, and the test mode.The commands

to be issued in each case respectively are:

grails run-app //default mode

grails dev run-app // development mode

grails test run-app // test mode

So all you need to do is issue the command for development mode and you will

find your application up and running when you enter the following

address in the browser: http://localhost:8080/PCQGDemo


A one-stop solution for quickly building enterprise scale applications, in

fact their home page lists quite a few impressive projects using the framework.

If you still want more (for a reason you will have to figure out!) the framework

is easily integrable even with AJAX.